Union-Castle Stripes

Neil Purdon
13th September 2010, 18:23
When did Union-Castle change from standard Merchant Navy diamond stripes to the RN like "curls" and what prompted it?

Neil

James_C
13th September 2010, 18:28
Most likely immediately post WW2.
A few companies were granted permission (by the King) to wear RN style 'curles' in recognition of war service.
Union Castle was one such company, I think Blue Star was another, plus Clan Line, Ben Line and of course BP.

Ron Stringer
13th September 2010, 20:43
Most likely immediately post WW2.
A few companies were granted permission (by the King) to wear RN style 'curles' in recognition of war service.
Union Castle was one such company, I think Blue Star was another, plus Clan Line, Ben Line and of course BP.

I believe that you will find that is an urban myth, marine section.

There are no regulations concerning how members of the Merchant Navy are attired. Shipowners are private companies and can pick or choose how they wish their employees to dress, just like the Great Western Railway, MacDonalds or Marks & Spencer. They do not require the permission of the King, or anyone else outside their board room. They could dress everyone that they employed in ermine-trimmed robes and coronets, like members of the House of Lords if they so wished and no one could object (well maybe some of those working in the engine room might find things a little inconvenient). (Jester)

IF shipowners choose to insist that their employees wear uniform (and many did not), then the company decides what that uniform consists of and what emblems/badges of rank they should display.

Some companies as an attempt at self-promotion, with delusions of grandeur, or a wish to climb the social ladder, chose to base their uniform and braid on that of the Royal Navy. Others chose another design which was generally agreed and adopted by uniform suppliers. You know the idea - capitalism and market forces decide. Just a matter of fashion and personal taste of the owner.

None of the companies mentioned were any more or less deserving than the others that were trading (remember that they were all trading, earning money for the owners in the usual, commercial manner, whilst also serving the needs of the country). The fact that they were at war did not alter that - they were not part of the military. So the people sailing with companies with only one or two ships were just as threatened by enemy action as the biggest companies. And they were just as brave and deserving of praise and recognition.

So please don't promulgate nonsense about the State, or the Crown, giving special commendation to just a few of those brave people. The authorities were far more equitable than that - they didn't recognise, reward or give praise to any part of the MN.

onestar
13th September 2010, 22:03
Thank you Ron, the myth that some companies were recognised makes one wonder what the other slackers were doing! One other myth is that Blue Funnel midshipmen were granted that rank in view of the excellent service in WWI! Any company could call their staff what they wished. Union Castle used to wear the standard MN ranks and badges until they were taken over by Clan Line (Caysers?)

sparkie2182
13th September 2010, 23:02
"they didn't recognise, reward or give praise to any part of the MN."

Succinctly put.........Well said.

jimthehat
13th September 2010, 23:17
"they didn't recognise, reward or give praise to any part of the MN."

Succinctly put.........Well said.

In ASN we wore RN style braid,but I was told that the braid was slightly narrower than that of the Rn.
i dont think any of us had delusions of grandeur,just a lot of good ship handlers and many well trained X bank line men.

jim

Ron Stringer
13th September 2010, 23:22
i dont think any of us had delusions of grandeur,just a lot of good ship handlers and many well trained X bank line men.

It was not the men, Jim, the Company directors were the ones who were bulls*itting.

Cisco
14th September 2010, 08:39
I believe that you will find that is an urban myth, marine section.

There are no regulations concerning how members of the Merchant Navy are attired. Shipowners are private companies and can pick or choose how they wish their employees to dress.... (Jester)
.
I would beg to differ... I once had a copy of an Order made in the Court of St James in 1919 which defined standard Merchant Navy uniform and the braid to go with it. Seems King George V at that time allowed what had been called the Mercantile Marine or whatever to call itself the 'Merchant Navy' ( lesser seafaring nations such as the US still only have a 'merchant marine' ) as a result of the sacrifices made in WW1.

The uniform rules not only laid down what could be worn but when it could be worn... only if on articles or off to meet the Queen etc etc.

You are right in saying that no-one had to wear it and companies could design their own if they so chose.

I imagine - although I haven't seen it written anywhere- that it was at about the same time that the issuing of campaign medals to merchant seamen began, the only civilians to be so treated.

CAPTAIN JEREMY
14th September 2010, 10:11
I would beg to differ... I once had a copy of an Order made in the Court of St James in 1919 which defined standard Merchant Navy uniform and the braid to go with it. Seems King George V at that time allowed what had been the called Mercantile Marine or whatever to call itself the 'Merchant Navy' ( lesser seafaring nations such as the US still only have a 'merchant marine' ) as a result of the sacrifices made in WW1.

The uniform rules not only laid down what could be worn but when it could be worn... only if on articles or off to meet the Queen etc etc.

You are right in saying that no-one had to wear it and companies could design their own if they so chose.

I imagine - although I haven't seen it written anywhere- that it was at about the same time that the issuing of campaign medals to merchant seamen began, the only civilians to be so treated.

If you take the trouble to read the Merchant Shipping Act (both 1995 & 2007), there are references there to the Merchant Navy uniform. It is still an offence to wear it incorrectly or in a way to show contempt for it. However, I suspect that it would be impossible to prosecute the large number of people who don't wear all of it or wear it incorrectly. In the past, when I was sitting my Masters, I did actually find the relevent SI comprising the "Merchant Navy Uniform Regulations". However, now I can find no trace of such a regulation, although in the MSA there is still a reference that the Dept of Trade can stipulate a uniform to be worn.

As most British flagged ships have few or no British officers I doubt it can be enforced. With the influx of manning from Eastern Europe, I would suspect that any uniform would be based on shell suits and shower slippers!

Cisco
14th September 2010, 10:56
As most British flagged ships have few or no British officers I doubt it can be enforced. With the influx of manning from Eastern Europe, I would suspect that any uniform would be based on shell suits and shower slippers!

Yep, all ancient history now....
Getting back to the original post... Clan Line braid was slightly ( noticeably?) narrower than RN braid.

CAPTAIN JEREMY
14th September 2010, 12:23
Yep, all ancient history now....
Getting back to the original post... Clan Line braid was slightly ( noticeably?) narrower than RN braid.

Traditionally, MN braid has been 3/8 inch while the RN is 1/2 inch.

jimthehat
14th September 2010, 14:19
Traditionally, MN braid has been 3/8 inch while the RN is 1/2 inch.

Seems familiar, ASN 3/8 but difficult to measure it off a wedding photo,but definitely same same Rn.

jim

Cisco
14th September 2010, 14:27
Wear the 1/2 inch and you would be in the slammer for impersonating a naval officer....

jimthehat
14th September 2010, 14:29
Wear the 1/2 inch and you would be in the slammer for impersonating a naval officer....

not if you had been in the RNR

Chris Isaac
14th September 2010, 14:30
I believe that you will find that is an urban myth, marine section.

There are no regulations concerning how members of the Merchant Navy are attired. Shipowners are private companies and can pick or choose how they wish their employees to dress, just like the Great Western Railway, MacDonalds or Marks & Spencer. They do not require the permission of the King, or anyone else outside their board room. They could dress everyone that they employed in ermine-trimmed robes and coronets, like members of the House of Lords if they so wished and no one could object (well maybe some of those working in the engine room might find things a little inconvenient). (Jester)

IF shipowners choose to insist that their employees wear uniform (and many did not), then the company decides what that uniform consists of and what emblems/badges of rank they should display.

Some companies as an attempt at self-promotion, with delusions of grandeur, or a wish to climb the social ladder, chose to base their uniform and braid on that of the Royal Navy. Others chose another design which was generally agreed and adopted by uniform suppliers. You know the idea - capitalism and market forces decide. Just a matter of fashion and personal taste of the owner.

None of the companies mentioned were any more or less deserving than the others that were trading (remember that they were all trading, earning money for the owners in the usual, commercial manner, whilst also serving the needs of the country). The fact that they were at war did not alter that - they were not part of the military. So the people sailing with companies with only one or two ships were just as threatened by enemy action as the biggest companies. And they were just as brave and deserving of praise and recognition.

So please don't promulgate nonsense about the State, or the Crown, giving special commendation to just a few of those brave people. The authorities were far more equitable than that - they didn't recognise, reward or give praise to any part of the MN.

Nonsense!
It is entirely true and was accorded to the companies listed above.
Union Castle was not one of those but after the merger with Clan Line permission was given for the curled stripes to be used throughout B&C.

onestar
14th September 2010, 19:57
Royal Navy (and Commonwealth Navies) braid was 9/16 of an inch. Metrication may have changed it!

onestar
14th September 2010, 20:03
Chris Isaac, Ron Stringer is correct. The standard MN uniform was approved for all who wished to follow it, but was not obligatory. Companies could regulate as they saw fit. Look at White Star Line in 1912 where the uniforms were hard to distinguish from that of the Royal Navy. The idea that certain companies were given special Royal treatment is a fairy tale. Show the evidence if you can prove otherwise.

Fred Field
25th March 2013, 14:54
Traditionally, MN braid has been 3/8 inch while the RN is 1/2 inch.

I do not remember when it changed but RN braid, at one time, was 5/8 inch.

double acting
18th October 2013, 17:23
Union Castle changed to "Clan Line" braid when they were taken over by the Cayzers. I know,I was sailing with them at the time. Up until then standard MN braid was used. All other stories are rubbish.

James_C
18th October 2013, 18:20
After a bit of digging on the 'London Gazette' website, I found the original Order in Council from 1921 which defined the original MN uniform post First World War. As referenced by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, amended 2003, it's still valid today.

forthbridge
19th October 2013, 14:08
Royal Navy (and Commonwealth Navies) braid was 9/16 of an inch. Metrication may have changed it!

Ben Line braid was 7/16". I just measured it.

alan ward
19th October 2013, 14:20
T&J Harrisons wore different braid to most, it was narrower.Remember the day when you went to the company nominated outfitter and got braid and epaulettes free?

Scelerat
19th October 2013, 22:24
I believe that you will find that is an urban myth, marine section.

There are no regulations concerning how members of the Merchant Navy are attired. Shipowners are private companies and can pick or choose how they wish their employees to dress, just like the Great Western Railway, MacDonalds or Marks & Spencer. They do not require the permission of the King, or anyone else outside their board room. They could dress everyone that they employed in ermine-trimmed robes and coronets, like members of the House of Lords if they so wished and no one could object (well maybe some of those working in the engine room might find things a little inconvenient). (Jester)

IF shipowners choose to insist that their employees wear uniform (and many did not), then the company decides what that uniform consists of and what emblems/badges of rank they should display.

Some companies as an attempt at self-promotion, with delusions of grandeur, or a wish to climb the social ladder, chose to base their uniform and braid on that of the Royal Navy. Others chose another design which was generally agreed and adopted by uniform suppliers. You know the idea - capitalism and market forces decide. Just a matter of fashion and personal taste of the owner.

None of the companies mentioned were any more or less deserving than the others that were trading (remember that they were all trading, earning money for the owners in the usual, commercial manner, whilst also serving the needs of the country). The fact that they were at war did not alter that - they were not part of the military. So the people sailing with companies with only one or two ships were just as threatened by enemy action as the biggest companies. And they were just as brave and deserving of praise and recognition.

So please don't promulgate nonsense about the State, or the Crown, giving special commendation to just a few of those brave people. The authorities were far more equitable than that - they didn't recognise, reward or give praise to any part of the MN.

Very well put.

John Rogers
20th October 2013, 00:12
On my recent cruise (Sept)on HA the Captain was wearing the wide curly braid,all other Captains I met previous wore the standard braid. He did tell me he served his time with Union Castle so that's likely where he got the idea.